Christingle

The Christingle has become an established part of the Christmas season – although it isn’t actually about Christmas.    I reckon that, in our Parish, we have the earliest Christingle, the very start of Advent at St. Mark’s and the latest, Candlemas, at St. George’s.

This year, at St. George’s, not only did everyone have the opportunity to make their own Christingle,  we also took it one step further.    The whole congregation, like the orange, symbolised the world.    Poles with representations of God’s creation, all good things and the seasons,  were held up by children, standing to the north, south, east and west.   Balls of red wool were passed around and held by everyone, encircling us all, to symbolise God’s blood, which was shed for us all.   The Easter candle was moved to the centre of the Church, symbolising God’s light, shining upon us all – and a piece of tin foil was held up to show how it reflects the light – just as each one of us is called to reflect a power which is God’s radiance.

The Parish band played, we sang hymns full of light and the Church felt full of the Holy Spirit.

Maxine Everitt

Photo Credit – Georgie Fry

 

Beyond Belief

For our next book we are going to read Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran pastor in America who writes of her life and church giving new insight into age old Christian Questions (sample chapter here).  It will make you laugh, and make you ponder on what you thought you knew.

We will be meeting on 24 February, 9 March, and  20 April 2016 (and later at dates tba).

If you are interested in attending then please email or phone me: reverend.alan@gmail.com, 01252 820537.

 

Random thoughts about Confirmation

I’d like to say that this was a moment of deep significance for me after a slow acceptance of the coincidence of my own thoughts and the Christian practice I’ve found in this parish.

I’d like to say it, but it wouldn’t be true. I suspect I’m not alone in thinking that the significance of this event only comes later and that, in time, I may look back and point to it as a significant milestone in my life.

It’s probably futile to rationalise my reasons for being confirmed. On the facetious side, I’ve been “Lesley’d”. Under the combined onslaught from both my wife and our Rector I was surely going to succumb.

Somewhat more seriously, Karen Armstrong makes the point that religion is not something that people thought, but something they did . Ritual is an essential part, giving a pathway to a deeper, albeit personal and probably incommunicable, understanding. I’ve received a blessing at communion for a couple of years now. It’s been increasingly important to me, but I’ve been aware that it was not the full ritual and felt it was time to take the next step.

However, getting back to thoughts about the actual event. There were the profound and, of course, the ridiculous, probably mildly sacrilegious ones.

On the profound side, the things I found deeply moving were the support given by members of the parish I’ve come to know in recent years. To see Tia, Kate and Tom there (and their parents) was very special and something to cherish. This isn’t to minimise the feeling of acceptance into the community from all members of the congregation. It felt a bit like coming home after a long absence.

The Bishop wanted a few personal words with us beforehand. We had a chat about why we were there, and then he prayed for us. I don’t know what is was like for the other participants, but I felt he was trying to make a very special effort with me. At times, there seemed to be almost a note of desperation in his voice! (You can make up your own mind about the profundity or otherwise of this comment.)

During the actual service, I was slightly concerned about where I should be at any particular time! I was playing in the band, reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (hadn’t full stops been invented when he wrote his letters?) and being “done”. Then there was the actual moment of Communion. I didn’t spill the wine, or grab it from the hands (relief).

However, I did find the incredibly dry wafer stuck like epoxy resin to my tongue and I was slightly preoccupied in trying to remove it without sticking my finger in my mouth. Probably not the sentiment one should have at this auspicious occasion, but let’s tell it like it was.

Finally, we were given candles and were led out to the narthex. End of ceremony, lots of photographs to be embarrassed about at a later time, and cakes and wine. At this point I apparently managed to embarrass (wife) Lesley by pointing out that the Bishop’s crook wasn’t much good for sheep or people but probably alright for smiting – definitely an Old Testament sort of implement.

Still, I’ve been done. Let’s see how we go from here.

Bob

My Confirmation, A Family Affair

If some one had told me five years ago that I would be sat in St.Georges Church on a bitterly cold Sunday evening in January waiting for my confirmation service to begin, I would not have believed them. So, how and why was I there?

As is normal for me, it is a very complicated story which has spanned my entire life so far. About four years ago a life changing event occurred which literally whipped the rug from under my feet. I was catapulted into a state of utter hurt,confusion and shock and was left wondering what my whole life, as far back as I could remember, had been for.The only person who I could turn to who would understand all of this was my long suffering husband. At this time I was not a regular church attender.

But around this time my elder daughter, son-in-law and grandson began attending services at St.Georges, soon to be followed by my younger daughter and granddaughter. I then began to feel that I wanted to be with them at church so I started to go to be with them.

So what did I find? I found a welcoming, friendly, non-judgemental congregation in a calm and reflective environment, the effect of which initially led me to me crying throughout most of the service. I thought this was me being just stupid so stopped going for few a months.

Then something made me want to try again. Fortunately, over time, the tears grew less and less, but I still have the odd relapse! I slowly realised that going to church was actually helping me and suddenly, as if a light had been switched on, I realised that I would like to be confirmed.

I had been to Guildford Cathedral on several occasions to witness baptism and confirmations of my family and friends. Each time the Cathedral was packed with candidates and congregation so i foolishly thought, “safety in numbers”. As I later found out, it was not to be.

In preparation for confirmation, off I trundled with my husband in tow, to the Rectory for my six or so weekly sessions of questioning faith. I found a really lovely group of people who were and still are of great help and support. I also found out that the actual service was being held at St. Georges and that there were just four candidates.

The day of the service arrived and I was well and truly in the spotlight not hiding in the Cathedral throng or from the Bishop!
There then followed a wonderful service with joyful music, hymns and singing by the Family band and the combined choirs of St.Georges and St. Johns.
It was a truly “family affair”, with my two daughters and my son-in-law among the congregation with my friends. My grandson Tom and granddaughter Jessie were the Acolytes and also sang in the choir with my Husband. Just a small family joining the bigger family of the church.

I would like to thank everybody for a wonderful evening.

Cathedral to host top eco-experts to inspire action on climate change

Guildford Cathedral is set to host a number of top experts on environmental issues in a public forum on climate change on 9 February (7.45 pm). Entitled Stories of Hope, it will be a chance for people of all faiths and none to meaningfully contribute to discussions on tackling climate change.

The evening is being held following the global agreement to keep the increase in global temperatures to ‘well below’ 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, which was decided at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of last year.

Ben Niblett of Tearfund, Jo Musker-Sherwood of Hope for the Future, and Ruth Valerio of A Rocha UK will speak, and there will be a Q&A with Diocesan Environmental Adviser Revd Lesley Crawley.

The Bishop of Guildford, Rt Revd Andrew Watson, who will open the event said: “February 2016 is an excellent time to take stock following the Paris Summit on climate change. With a fabulous line-up of speakers I’d really encourage people to come along to this evening conference, so that we might become better stewards of the rich environment in which God has placed us.”

A Rocha UK’s Churches and Theology Director, Ruth Valerio will also help to launch ‘Eco-church’ – a programme of action and awareness-raising to help parishes make the spaces they worship more eco-friendly.

Diocesan Environmental Adviser and Farnham vicar, the Revd Lesley Crawley said: “Eco-church will offer simple and measurable ways to make a difference to the environment. I am really excited about the opportunities for environmental action in our local communities and the nation as a whole, and feel that the tide is changing for the better.”

All are welcome to attend the event, which will be an opportunity to think about how best for everyone to respond to the outcome of the recent climate talks in Paris.

St Mark’s to Hold a Pet Service

The animals will hopefully come in two-by-two on Sunday 24th January at 3pm when St Mark’s Church in Upper Hale hold their pet service.

The service, which will allow people to give thanks to God for the animal kingdom and have their pets blessed will be followed by a Bring-and-Share buffet tea.

The Reverend Lesley Crawley said: “We are running the service as some people on Facebook asked whether we could have a Pet Service in the parish and it seemed like an excellent idea! Everyone is welcome to come along and bring their pets for a blessing and also a plate of food to share afterwards, if they would like to.”

Take your partner by the hand!

Take your partner by the hand on Friday 5th February at 7:30pm at St George’s Church, Badshot Lea, GU9 9LU and join in the sixth annual Candlemas Barn Dance to raise money for Parish funds. Supper is included but bring your own drinks.

Bob Shatwell, who organises the event each year said, “This event has got better each year that we have held it. We clear the whole church of chairs and have a tremendous space to dance in. Last year over a hundred people attended.”

The Reverend Lesley Crawley commented, “There is nothing like a Barn Dance to bring the community together, old and young, men and women, we all have fun attempting to get it right and laughing at ourselves when we get it wrong. Do come along, the food is great and it is remarkably good fun.”

Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for children, available from Bob Shatwell 01252 314703, robert.shatwell@ntlworld.com